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Wednesday, Sep 22, 2021

Business Spotlight: Z Beans Coffee shop opens in Mercer Village

Z Beans, a social entrepreneurship company founded by recent Mercer graduate Shane Buerster, now has a physical store in Mercer Village.

The coffee shop replaced Jittery Joe’s and opened on Aug. 27. The line to enter the store spilled onto the sidewalk on opening day.

“Our biggest reasoning behind wanting to open up our own coffee shop is because we have a story to tell, you know, and a story can easily be told through a retail setting,” Buerster said.

The coffee shop imports coffee from Ecuador and offers a choice of coffee from small farmers Milton or Angelino. Milton’s blend has notes of chocolate, and Angelino’s has a floral base.

Pastries, muffins and cheesecakes are offered from Macon area companies, including Bistro To Go.

The menu has a few new options for coffee, most notably the “4 Loco.”

“We pronounce it ‘quatro loco’ so we don’t have a problem with copyright or anything like that, and all that it is just four shots of espresso, and I’ve seen a lot of people get it,” Buerster said.

The new coffee shop is a continuation of the business Jittery Joe’s conducted, Buerster said.

Buerster has partnered with another recent Mercer graduate, Carter Varga, who started working for Buerster as an intern and now works in the retail side of the business.

“Quickly I realized ‘man, this guy cares about Z Beans just as much as I do,’” Buerster said.

He approached Varga about working for him full-time after graduation, and Varga accepted.

“It just all kind of paralleled, and Carter seems to be extremely happy with it,” Buerster said.

Buerster said customers seem satisfied, but there have been some complaints about pricing.

“People need to take into consideration with the pastries and muffins and stuff like that, there's a cost that is to be assumed by us to source everything local,” he said.

Many people were skeptical about Z Beans replacing Jittery Joe’s, but Buerster said the most skeptical were the employees.

All of the employees at Jittery Joe’s were offered jobs with Z Beans, and many asked Buerster questions about the company.

“I respected the heck out of the fact that they had so much intrinsic appreciation for Jittery Joe’s. If they have that for Jittery Joe’s... I feel if I’m transparent and we continue to do things the right way, they can continue to have that same thing about Z Beans,” Buerster said.

Kristen Black is an employee who transitioned from Jittery Joe’s to Z Beans and said she likes the new store.

“I think there’s people that miss Jit Joe’s, but I’m not sure if they’ve come to try Z Beans yet, because I think they would be happy,” Black said. “A lot of the things are similar and also the people that like Z Beans, I think they really like the mission that Carter and Shane have started.”

Hannah Warren, a junior creative writing major, said she was skeptical at first but has come to like Z Beans.

“I went to Jittery Joe’s almost every day last semester,” Warren said.

Warren said she cried when she heard Jittery Joe’s was closing, but was relieved to hear Z Beans was replacing the store.

“I tried Z Beans for the first time last week, and though it’s no Jittery Joe’s, I’ll definitely be back for more cold brew soon,” she said.

Buerster hopes people will let him know what they think.

“If there’s any question regarding a menu, or what we’re doing, or why we’re doing something, please just reach out to me and ask, because if it’s not something that I have thought about then I’ll start thinking about it, and taking it into consideration, and I appreciate all feedback whether its constructive, or a pat on the back.”


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